Folklore (PlayStation 3) review
"You see, unlike in other action RPGs, you don't have a sword that you replace over time. Instead, the Folks that you absorb are your weapons. Each Folk you absorb gives you a new ability, be it a flamethrowing badass' ability to throw a stream of fire, an ice-breathing dragon's skill to charge up blasts of ice, or something as little as the spear attack from a merman that stabs forward with a trident."
If you will, take a second to look at the vast majority of PLAYSTATION 3 titles and you'll notice one common theme: They're all very dark, gritty, and quite obviously aimed at a more "mature" audience, regardless of if they actually succeed in that aspect or not. A look at Folklore's introduction would quickly make one assume the very same will happen here. After you're introduced to Ellen and Keats, the two main characters of our story, you're thrust into Doolin Village, a run down town that looks like a cross between a Resident Evil game and a not-as-pretty Besaid Island from Final Fantasy X. It doesn't help matters any that within the first 10 minutes, someone is murdered and so Ellen and Keats decide to SOLVE THE MYSTERY by entering the realm of the dead... The Netherworld!
Great, here we go again, echoed the thoughts in my head.
Luckily, such was not the case. Instead, my time in Doolin was kept relatively short. Soon after I selected to play as Keats on the character selection screen that appears before each chapter, I was thrust into the Faerie Realm, a bright, lush world filled with vivid colours, fields of flowers, dusty trails, and tons of other details that look like they were ripped straight from a storybook and thrown onto your TV in luscious high-def 3d. To say that the Netherworld paints a stark contrast from Doolin Village is an understatement. It was only one of the seven gorgeous areas that would take me through luscious fields, ancient halls of a mazelike castle, an undersea palace guarded by an immense serpent, and so much more. It truly is like stepping into a whole new world, one filled with dangers and traps and bloodthirsty monsters known as Folks.
The Folks will hunt you down, try to kill you, and use all the abilities they have to make your life a living hell, moreso than it already is considering you're in a place called the Netherworld. Luckily though, you have a few tricks of your own. After beating the crap out of a Folk and knocking the spirit out of it, you can latch onto it with a press of the R1 button and a gimmicky flick of the controller to absorb its soul, effectively killing the monster, giving you experience, and working towards increasing the power of your Folks. You see, unlike in other action RPGs, you don't have a sword that you replace over time. Instead, the Folks that you absorb are your weapons. Each Folk you absorb gives you a new ability, be it a flamethrowing badass' ability to throw a stream of fire, an ice-breathing dragon's skill to charge up blasts of ice, or something as little as the spear attack from a merman that stabs forward with a trident. By meeting the correct criteria you can increase their power and unlock their "Karma", which is little more than a synonym for a level up... Just like the experience you earn to increase your Rank, which gives an HP boost.
At the end of each chapter lies a Folklore, or as they're known in other games, a "boss." The Folklore is generally impervious to damn near everything you throw at it, but luckily there are pages from a picture book that you can find throughout each of the seven large areas of the Netherworld, which reveal certain weak points on the Folklore that you can utilize to your advantages. Games like Zelda taught me to use the items I received in ways I hadn't thought of before, but Folklore takes it to a whole new level. In even just the first boss encounter, you'll find yourself running circles around the foe to avoid his massive tentacles while at the same time prodding him, experimenting to find one of his very few weaknesses.
But when you find those weaknesses, it's all the more rewarding.
To add on to the replay value, the storyline weaves a beautiful tale between the two main characters. Because of the ability to switch characters after playing through their one of their chapters, you can see how each character experiences each events. It's a cool touch that constantly reminded me of Rudra no Hihou, one of my favourite games. And while each character has their own slight gameplay quirks, they generally play exactly the same for the most part, so there's little confusion as to what you can and can't do. Add in the optional sidequests you can take at the local bar back in Doolin, a dungeon creation mode, and the ability to download new quests and dungeons over the Playstation Network and you've got a recipe for a game that's quite possibly the best one I've played on PS3 thus far.
Just don't let the awful cover art keep you from buying it.
Staff review by Kyle Stepp (October 12, 2007)
Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.
If you enjoyed this Folklore review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!